iTunes Digital movie redemption is great. You open the app, navigate to the store, click on "Redeem" and redeem your legally purchased digital copy of your new favorite flick.
One problem: all iTunes movies are digitally protected so that they will not play on an external monitor (including a home projector or secondary display) that is not connected via HDMI. There's no way for them to check the copyright. Thanks, Hollywood.
No worries, though! My purchased BluRay comes with an UltraViolet redemption too! So, I log in with Flixster, my chosen UltraViolet redemption service. That's a whole thing because you actually have two logins: one for UltraViolet and one for Flixster. Nevertheless, I get logged in and attempt to redeem the code.
It starts downloading. Great! It'll play on an external display. Great!
Problem: it's downloading in SD quality. Less than 720p. At the same quality as a DVD. This is beneficial but on a home HD projector, it looks, well, bad.
But why? Why wouldn't I have an HD copy? My physical copy is in 1080p. Certain studios, it seems, only authorize standard definition downloads for all redemptions, regardless of the quality physical media that is purchased.
Piracy of digital media (mainly movies and television shows) may have been curbed *slightly* by the existence of digital redemption codes, but it hasn't come close to eradicating it. Nowhere close.
What would have been an easier way to watch the film? Find it on an online streaming site, load it in the cache, and click "Full Screen". I didn't do that because I've begun to have a conscience about such things. I paid the price as I attempted to watch a film I paid for on an external display that I owned in my own dwelling. And why? All because my display used a different connection.
If I buy an iTunes music file on Apple's service, there are no longer any digital restrictions on what I can do with the file. With it, and the existence of cheap legal streaming options, music piracy has been severely curbed. We're moving that way in film but it's taking far too long.
Some say that film and music are different arts. This is true. Steve Jobs once famously said that no one wanted to rent music, they'd rather own it. Because you might want to watch a movie once or twice in your life, but you may want to listen to a song thousands of times. The music and movie industry are different business models and different arts. But their distribution methods are much much the same.
Some say that the intention is to curb the unlawful presentation of films to large audiences. This isn't true. If I had an HDMI display, I could have played it easy peasy. Or, if I had chosen to play the physical media instead of the file-based media, I wouldn't have had a problem either. But, WHY WOULD I PUT A PHYSICAL DISK INTO A MACHINE? Yuck. What is this, 2005?
Movies, and the consumption of them, is moving to a sans-physical distribution method. It needs to move quicker and reward those who purchase legal material. To do so, the business structure may need to change. It may change the prices we pay.
But until then we'll fight. And cry. And be forced to watch our newly purchased film on an internet-connected television device. But we don't want that. Consumers want to watch what we want, when we want, and how we want.
Sell that to consumers in a non-proprietary way, and you just might sell more films.